Gary Lynch, Bank of America Corp.’s general counsel and compliance chief, gathered his lawyer friends to watch Frank Langella, playing King Lear, ignore his good counselors Cordelia and Kent and meet a tragic end.
The occasion was the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Theater Gala last night. Lynch, the event’s chairman and a BAM board member, personally raised more than $600,000 for the performing-arts and cinema venue in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood.
Among the firms Lynch recruited to support the gala were Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; Shearman & Sterling LLP; Williams & Connolly LLP; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; and Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr.
Attendees including actress Cynthia Nixon and performance artist Laurie Anderson arrived at 5:30 p.m. for cocktails and dinner, followed by three hours of Shakespeare from Langella and Britain’s visiting Chichester Festival Theatre. The lawyers on the guest list lost about six billable hours -- all with Lynch’s blessing.
“To a firm and a person, you give generously,” said the former Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement head, who later worked at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse AG. “I want to particularly thank you for your contributions to the arts.”
Lynch made the remarks amidst a forest of ferns and boulders, a BAM-quality set installed in the dining room. “I feel very much at home standing here, because I feel lost in the woods,” Lynch said.
He decided to be a lawyer “when I was an undergraduate, because I didn’t know what else to do,” he said, adding that he fell into the kind of law he practices “by total accident.”
At the winter benefit for the Manhattan Theatre Club, David C. Hodgson, a managing director at General Atlantic LLC, said being an audience member made him a more empathetic person.
“The theater is, I think, perhaps the single best way of exercising your skill at understanding people and how you put yourself in other people’s shoes,” Hodgson said at the benefit, held in the Allen Room on Monday.
The nonprofit company’s current production, “Outside Mullingar,” starring Brian F. O’Byrne and Debra Messing, hit him close to home.
“There’s a very awkward Irish male who is in love with a woman, and he can’t find a way of saying how in love he is with her,” Hodgson said. “I can’t imagine a man who hasn’t gone through something like this.”
Hodgson joined the MTC board 18 years ago, and became chairman in 2010.
“It’s the most fascinating business in the world,” Hodgson said. “We lose money on every show we do, so we have to supplement that with philanthropy, and we have to compete with for-profit theater. It’s a complete impossibility, but somehow we pull it off year after year.”
Hodgson’s day job sees him invest in growth companies.
“It’s often very hard to execute on innovation. That’s what we like to think we’re good at helping companies with. Trees do not grow to the sky. Success is often the beginning of a slower growth phase.”
Also at the event were Eric Hippeau, a partner at Lerer Ventures, and Alan Patricof, founder of Greycroft Partners LLC, who said he’s recently invested in The Dodo, a website about animals.
Arching her back in a body-hugging green sequined dress, her elastic body an instrument of its own, singer, songwriter and beauty Alice Smith sang Cee Lo Green’s “Fool For You,” before pausing to give a birthday greeting to the editor of InStyle, Ariel Foxman, who turned 40 yesterday. Then she was back in sultry mode on a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”
InStyle’s kickoff to Fashion Week saw a serious foray into presenting live music by Bar Nana, where one wall in the intimate nightlife spot is devoted to books and another to roomy banquettes. Trey Hospitality partners David Rabin and Kyle Hotchkiss Carone said that the concert would be the first of many such gigs in the space.
Foxman could have used the occasion to boast about 26 straight months of ad-page growth, or hiring Eric Wilson away from the New York Times. Instead he caught up with friends and prepared for the work part of Fashion Week, which runs through Feb. 13.
“It’s not just about fashion and parties,” Foxman said. “Even though you’re sitting for five or six minutes watching a fashion show, there’s a 45-minute build-up and 10 minutes afterward where you’re talking to people in a very real way.”
Foxman aims for one-on-one time with designers (in Milan, he arranged a “Twitterview” with Giorgio Armani), corporate communication directors, and media-buy decision makers. The message he bears: the InStyle reader “is inspired but also wants to act on that inspiration. It’s not enough to flip the pages and dream of a fantasy world.”
When Fashion Week is over, Bar Nana will welcome bankers who know they can catch a scene as early as 10 p.m., hit bed at midnight, and be at work by 5 a.m.